A Stitts Skycoupe Restoration Project

The Stitts Skycoupe is also known as Stitts SA7 D

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Work Session 9/28/2011 - Prop Turns / Wing's On!

Two major milestones in our efforts were reached yesterday evening when we finished the Skycoupe's RH wing and the prop was spun for the first time. On the wing, brackets for the strut and fuselage attachment were mounted, inter-rib lacing was affixed and a balsa reinforcement was bonded into the wingtip for navigation lights, should we decide to add these at a later date. The wing crew consisted of Joel McLaughlin, Jim Cronin and Kent Misegades. Thanks to Konrad Schoen, a freshly rebuilt starter was mounted on the engine and exercised. It easily spun the unpowered engine and will certainly be able to bring it to life when a few more components are prepared for the first runs.

EAA 1114 chapter TC, Jack Phillips, spent most of the evening with us and commented on the good appearance of the wing. His expertise on the choice of bolts and washers for the brackets as well as help sorting out some engine electrical issues was an important contribution to our general knowledge of aircraft construction.

Our next session will be this Saturday, when we'll begin covering the wings - you won't want to miss this important opportunity to learn, and take part in the metamorphosis of a bare structure into a flying machine.

Look for the Bear Creek Aero Club article in the October issues of EAA Sport Aviation, pp. 92-93.

Joel McLaughlin and Jim Cronin accurately torque the four pairs of RH wing brackets used to mount the wing to the fuselage and the lift struts.

The lovely olive drab of the primed lift strut brackets and compression tube contrast nicely with the amber hue of the varnished wood structure. An uncovered wooden wing is like a fine piece of furniture; it will almost be a pity to hide its beauty behind PolyFiber.

Joel McLaughlin shaped these reinforcements which were epoxied onto the inside of the wing tips. Like the conduits spanning the wings, these have been added in case we choose to add lights at a later time.

She's done! The RH wing ready for a trial attachment to the fuselage.....

... and she fit like a glove. Joel, Konrad, Jim and Terry savor the achievement.

A nice rear quartering view - she's starting to look like an airplane!

Konrad, Jack and Terry prepare the engine for its first unpowered runs.

Due to a weak battery and questionable solenoid, Konrad did some unique "wiring" to provide the needed 12 VDC for the rebuilt starter, which ran like a top as can be seen below.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Work Session 9/24/2011

This past week, the primary focus was constructing a set of sturdy shelves to hold all the airplane parts, engines, tools and materials that the Skunk Works is rapidly acquiring. Joel McLaughlin designed the shelves and led the effort over several long, strenuous days. On 9/24/2011 the final nails were sunk and we were able to start moving some of the material.

In addition, the final composite work was completed on the wings, so that covering can begin on Saturday, October 1st.

Joel "The Laird" McLaughlin led the design and construction of our shelves.

Mike McCann masterfully notched the vertical supports.

Terry and Joel erect the vertical supports.

Terry's lift was an essential "bad boy" tool in the construction.

Terry and Joel celebrate the "topping out", placing the last beams on the structure.

Tim Misegades, Terry Gardner, Andy Thomson, Bruce Edwards and Michael Payne celebrate the end of construction.

Michael, Terry and Bruce start to fill the shelves with airplane parts and tools.

The left wing emerges from the upstairs loft for final work.

Tom Hall sands the wingtip fairing.

Andy Thomson compares the fairings on both wings.

Chapter composite expert Bruce Edwards and Michael Payne admire their work.

Skunk Work members covered the final tail surface earlier last week.

Konrad Schoen disassembled our Delco starter - yuk!

Below: yep, it needs to be rebuilt! Konrad is handling this.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Work Session 9/17/2011

Let the covering begin!

A large number of people attended our first PolyFiber covering session at the Bear Creek Skunk Works today.

Thanks to EAA1114 Technical Counselor Jack Phillips for his expert guidance as we began covering the tail surfaces of the Skycoupe. Thanks also to Jim Cronin for providing us with a delicious lunch!

Special mention must be made to the nice folks at PolyFiber and Marvel-Schebler who are sponsoring this effort, to our aircraft's designer, Ray Stits, for his interest and advice, and to Jerry Stadtmiller of BIPE Inc. whose excellent workshop last week at the Triple Tree Aerodrome Fly-In prepared our team for this latest stage in our work.

If our covering work continues as it began today, we'll have one fine-looking airplanes when we're done.

The pictures below show all we accomplished today. We'll meet again tomorrow afternoon to continue covering work.

Konrad Schoen and Tom Hall apply pink PolyBrush to the horizontal stab.

Joel McLaughlin marks the dacron fabric prior to cutting.

Michael Payne learns from the composites expert, Cozy builder Bruce Edwards.

Shop Meister Terry Gardner proudly displays our first covered component - turned out great!

Composites expert Bruce Edwards describes techniques to Michael Payne and Andy Thomson.

Andy Thomson applies epoxy to glass while Skip Smoak holds the wing steady.

Claude Burkhead, Burke, and Skip enjoy one of Jim Zazas' amazing aviation tales.

Sam Allen irons the fabric under the watchful eye of TC Jack Phillips, whose experience at fabric covering was invaluable to our efforts.

Jack inspects our work as Jim Dukeman, Jim Zazas, Terry Gardner and Hari Gopalan listen closely.

Konrad removes excess fabric from the trim tab.

Konrad Schoen, Tom Hall and Sam Allen appear pleased with their work.

Jim Cronin served as chief cook and bottle washer for our group of hungry builders.

A shot of the covering effort from the wing loft.

Joel uses the iron to shrink the fabric, a truly magical moment in covering as all watch the wrinkles disappear.

The parking lot was full at the Bear Creek Skunkworks!

Below: Jack demonstrates proper ironing techniques. Hope our wives don't get any ideas that we can do the same on our shirts!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Work Session 9/15/2011

This report summarizes work performed on 9/12-15/2011, since work was performed each day this past week in order to be ready to begin covering the RH wing this Saturday afternoon.

What we've done in the past week:
  1. Half of our team attended Jerry Stadtmiller's fabric covering workshop at Triple Tree on 9/10/2011. The general consensus was that this was a very worthwhile experience. The gold standard is now his work and when deliberating fabric-related work one asks WWJD - What Would Jerry Do ?
  2. Thanks to Chuck Borsuk, Jim Cronin and JP Bernoux, we now own a BD-4 project. A large collection of material, fasteners, and some VERY nice tools are now owned by the BCAC. We're making an inventory and will eventually store everything at the Skunk Works for potential work on this airplane a later date.
  3. All foam shaping on the RH wing is complete and the fairings have a single layer of BID fiberglass.
  4. A few more components are needed prior to finishing the LH wing, for instance the pitot tube.
  5. At the strong recommendation of our TC Jack Phillips, we decided not to pursue lighting for the Skycoupe at this time. This adds complexity, cost and weight that most feel does not justify the occasional use of the aircraft at night. Conduits for navigation light wiring has however been secured in the wings in case we choose to do this at a later time.
The images below show some of our work in the past few days.

The next work session is Saturday, 9/17/2011 after the chapter meeting when we'll begin covering the RH wing and empennage.

RH wing inboard fairing, cured filler ready for sanding.

RH wing inboard fairing, cured filler ready for sanding.

Sandy Andy Thomson works on outboard fairing, sand, sand, sand

Ain't she pretty? Inboard fairing ready for fiberglass.

Ain't she pretty? Outboard fairing ready for fiberglass.

Inboard fairing covered with a single layer of bidirectional (BID) glass. We managed to use a single piece despite the curvature - no seams !

Outboard fairing covered with fiberglass.

Four Scuffers Scuffing, three glassers glassing, and a partridge in a pear tree!
Konrad, Andy, Nathan and Mike scuff the wooden surfaces in preparation for the final spraying of two-component epoxy varnish.

Mike McCann cleans a nice carpenter's square ruler, one of many tools that came with the BD-4 project.

Skunk Workers looking for booty - in the parts that came with the BD-4 project. Looked like kids in a toy shop!

Below - Tucker, the flamingo-chewing wonder dog, takes a breather from his attacks on the vacuum cleaner.